How to Make Your CV Stand Out - For Current Students

Applying for a job is always a constant worry; and it often begins with your Curriculum Vitae (CV). Such concerns are often associated with your CV layout and how to apply your educational and work experience. This article provides analysis on how to tailor your CV to counter these concerns. 


The definition of Curriculum Vitae is a “a course of life” which suggests it should provide a detailed summary of your achievements and qualities. Importantly, it is vital your CV stands out from the very beginning. Studies show the average recruiter spends 5-7 seconds looking at your CV before they have decided to consider you as a potential candidate. In addition, an employer may be looking through hundreds of CV’s a day; and making yours stand out from the beginning can put your name in the right direction early on. 


Structure of your CV

Your CV is the first barrier between you and a potential employer; so, making it clear will make it stand out early on. The structure must include your name, phone number and email address in bold at the top of your CV. This enables the recruiter to have your contact details when wanting to push your enrolment further. This is true because the absence of these contact details becomes a burden for a recruiter; and this is a simple error which can be avoided.


Furthermore, your CV does not have strict requirements for its length; but ideally, it should be no longer than a page. It is much better to have a straight to the point document full of achievements than multiple pages of waffle. Alternatively, anything you wish to add in more detail can be actioned through a LinkedIn account or cover letter if requested. A LinkedIn account is wise to obtain because it enables the recruiter to read up more about your profile and background.


 What to include in your CV

When writing a CV, it is essential you get straight to the point. People like results and facts and it is important to have these clearly labelled out on your academic CV. Watch a video here for further explanation. This refers to areas including your educational background, work experience and other achievements. To begin with, your CV should state your grades from your educational establishment and the grades achieved. 

Importantly, do not state GCSE Science or A-levels with grades labelled behind. It is vital you state each subject independently and the grade achieved. To make it easier for the reader, state your educational background in reverse chronological order; starting with higher education and working your way down to your GCSEs. This is because your most recent experience will be of highest importance to the recruiter.

According to Reed (recruitment website), 50% of recruiters state a logical order is the most important thing to consider on a CV. For example, a University degree to begin with and this narrows down. For each category of education, you must provide the date and the establishment you achieved this experience. This makes it easier for the recruiter to understand when and where this was achieved. 

The next section should include your work experience showing a similar layout to your education section. This allows the reader to develop an understanding of the structure of your CV and what to expect throughout. Place your work experience in reverse chronological order with your most up to date experience at the top; with the date and organisation you worked. 

To make the structure even more coherent, it would be sensible to add several bullet points under each section of work experience labelling what you did. A brief summary of your background is important for the recruiter to develop an understanding of your skills in the workplace.


To make yourself stand out even more, it would be wise to gather information about the industry you are applying for which can be achieved by many ways. For instance, one could diversify by having work experience across many different firms in the same industry. This informs your employer you are passionate about the industry and keen to learn. Moreover, researching about the firm you are applying for shows you are interested to learn about the organisation and you are ahead of the game.

We at Sherpa have expert online tutors to help guide you on these qualities. To find out more, visit our tutoring services. With our professional online learning whiteboard, our tutors will guide you towards writing a professional and well-structured CV. Online learning is a great way to stay at home and have our professional tutors help be your CV builder. Discover more by visiting our tutoring page. To achieve this, click on find a tutor who specialises in ‘Personal Statements’, ‘UCAS Preparation’ and ‘Oxbridge Preparation’ for those applying. 


 Achievements and Qualifications

Job markets are competitive and your grades and work experience are the main areas you will be compared to other individuals. However, achievements and qualifications are what set you out from the crowd. Firstly, school achievements must be included as they set you apart from other individuals without the focus on grades. Such achievements to be considered include scholarships, awards for specific activities, being a prefect, work related awards, sport awards and accomplishments in co-curricular activities. These achievements show who you are a person; and additionally, your behaviour away from revision.


Such achievements are often talking points in an interview and this enables a recruiter to understand your social skills and passion for applying. Critically, do not mention activities which any individual could do. For instance, stating general terms including being friendly or sociable are obvious qualities than anyone can put. 

Secondly, other qualifications to be included last can be considered as the “cherry on top” to finish your CV on a strong note. For example, exams achieved externally from school, courses you have completed out of personal interest or academic courses attended. These types of examples convey you as an enthusiastic person and this is an attribute employers like to see. 


What to avoid in your CV

There are a large number of things to avoid in your CV with most being avoided through proofreading. Firstly, you must make sure you have read over your CV for any spelling or grammatical errors. According to Reed, 50% of recruiters state poor spelling or grammar is their number one application turn-off. Writing a document with spelling mistakes is an indication that the person who wrote the CV does not pay attention to detail. Secondly, your CV must be consistent with font size or designs. Sections with inconsistent fonts or font sizes will appear anomalistic and unprofessional. 


Thirdly, do not lie about experiences or grades. In the age of digital technology, many employers are able to complete background checks for the school you attended or qualifications achieved. Being caught can terminate your chance of securing the job and repercussions of lying are of high risk. It is far better to be truthful and honest so the employer can understand your social skills and qualities. Lastly, make sure your contact details are sensible. An email address that is rude or unprofessional does not deliver a good image of oneself and can lead a recruiter to become dissatisfied. 

Our online tutors at Sherpa are able to guide you on these factors by providing you expert advice. Online sessions will be tailored to your preferences in order to maximise your CV being perfected. We are strong believers of high quality with our online tuition; so, get in touch and book an online session now to feel confident when you next apply for a job. 

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Sebastian Owen

22nd June

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